By Marsha M. Brown
This past week reminded all of us that even legends pass away. Those who always seem present…always in our midst…always a part of our lives…in one capacity or another… also eventually make that final journey home to be with our Lord.
I was never a student of Moncie L. ‘Punk’ Daniels, III nor a fellow educator; the cheers I yelled from the sidelines were like everyone else supporting our Manteo High School football team; I wasn’t a member of the church ‘Punk’ and Wanda attended; nor did I ‘hang’ with the same circle of his closest friends but my opinion of him, how I got to know him and how I will remember him is worthy of acknowledgment.
‘Punk’ as we all knew him was a man of all seasons who embraced life and the joy that life brings. His topics of discussion often related to the loves of his life…family at the top of his list and his close friends too…but much of what impressed me about ‘Punk’ was his love for God. He wasn’t pushy about his faith but it was evident – all you had to do was look in his eyes. ‘Punk’ was a believer from real experience. His vision was clear, unclouded and defined. He was a believer through and through about life as we know it and the life yet to be discovered.
The first time I heard him speak (as a veteran himself), he brought tears to my eyes. It was on the lawn of our Justice Center at a National Day of Prayer event a few years ago. His voice was clear as he spoke about sacrifice, our men and women who serve and the respect they so deserve. While ‘Punk’ addressed the audience that day, his lip quivered just a little but it wasn’t from nerves…or shyness…or lack of preparation…it was his genuine respect of our United States military and our flag and what they each represent that moved him.
But…then again we were all moved and proud too, yes of our military…but also of him. The eloquence of his words resonated heartfelt, passionate expressions of honor and sacrifice. If you attended that special event at the Justice Center, you heard him speak about what our veterans meant not only to our country but to him personally…and about his love for all American veterans who served in wars and conflict. And veterans of the Vietnam War…well, that’s another whole story in itself.
My personal fondness of ‘Punk’ continued following his appointment by the Board of Commissioners to the newly established Dare County Veterans Advisory Council in May of 2012. After having served together, I witnessed his enthusiasm for the Council and the good we could do for our Dare County veterans. He was happy to have served on that Council. He had a sincere desire to praise, recognize and support our veterans in every way possible and he was an inspiration to us all.
When my sweetie pie Billy & I asked him to be involved in our annual “SALUTE TO VETEANS” program in the fall of 2012, he obliged and he came to every one of our planning meetings regularly. He was easy to work with, he was willing to accept tasks and undertake whatever we needed him to do to help create a memorable “SALUTE” that our local (especially) Dare County veterans would appreciate.
As Secretary, I had the privilege to speak with ‘Punk’ as well as other Council members often throughout his term and when his term expired, and we asked him to stay in there with us (as Vice Chairman), he told me that as much as he’d like to, he wanted to be there for his daughter and grandson who had been injured. He also told me he hadn’t been feeling all that well and just really wanted to spend more time with his family.
We missed him on the Council. We were grateful for the time he served not only our country but fellow Dare County Veterans ‘honorably’ also. Sometimes over the last few years ‘Punk’ would forward me emails about veterans and faith in God and keeping our flag as a precious testament to honor, pride, service and sacrifice. I don’t know of any that I’ve ever erased because they’re all touching and because they showed me his concern over the changes in our world…changes that affected our men and women in uniform, about challenges to our faith and I felt his pain along with all veterans who love this country from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet.
Having honorably served our country in the U. S. Air Force retiring as Lieutenant Colonel ‘Punk’ carried his love of country with him to the very end.
On behalf of the remaining, former and new Council member appointees, I thank God for Moncie L. ‘Punk’ Daniels, III. and for his unfaltering commitment to the United States of America and to the County of Dare. We are thankful to have heard his prayers…to have sat beside him in meetings and to have shared his pride in military service, veteran comradary and to know that the work he was part of initially starting for our local vets will last throughout time.
Until next time…be happy, be safe and be proud. Take the time to reflect on all of the veterans you know and remember them with a call, a card, a note on their car (even if anonymous) to thank them and to let them know they have influenced your life in some special way. Please call me (252) 202-2058 if you have questions or know of a veteran who needs help in some way. God bless you all and you all know the drill…stay tuned.